WBA Bayou Region Names 2021 Athena Award Recipient

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From left to right: Katie Portier, 2021 Athea Award Winner Gloria Williams, and Rhonda Hebert.

Congratulations to the 2021 Women’s Business Alliance Athena Award Winner, Gloria Williams!
The award was presented Wednesday night at a formal reception at Milano’s in Downtown Houma. In October 2010, Williams founded a tutoring center called Learning Bridge Kids that offered services to K-12 students. She recruited certified teachers to volunteer their services to students who struggled in reading and math. The center also offered a focus on LEAP testing that taught students how to take, understand, and answer questions on standardized exams.

As the founder, she made sure students had afterschool snacks and provided them with a safe, fun, and nurturing environment. She went on to develop dance programs, Christmas socials, and holiday fun for her students that not only provided joy but also an opportunity for students to connect with other students from different backgrounds. She took special notice of parents who were in need and many needed a second chance, or what she calls a “do-over”, that provided a low-cost education that made the second chance meaningful.

Her center eventually developed into a learning space for those wanting a formal education but didn’t know where to take the first step. Williams developed and singly funded a small career institute that offered a program in the medical office and was approved by the Louisiana State Board of Regents in December of 2010. The center enrolled the first student in 2011.

Not only did she help students, but Williams created a space centered for adult women to enroll in programs that would provide them with an education focused on the healthcare industry that could lead to a national or state certification along with job placement. In 2012, she added additional programs such as medical billing and coding specialist, medical assisting, and nursing assiting. In 2014, she led her team to National Accreditation through Council on Occupational Education and in 2014, was approved to offer Federal Aid through the Department of Education. Along with her career achievements, she also has a heart for the community.

Williams is an education advocate that began in the early 1980s as a founding member of Parents United. The program has a focus on ensuring every child was offered a proper education and offered opportunities to participate fully in extracurricular activities. She continued focusing on educating young people and their goals through mentorship as a member of Plymouth Rock Baptist Church from 1970-to 2000 and First Corinthian Baptist from 2000 until the present. Currently, her institute has been her focus as it relates to the community and she believes that everyone who walks through her doors is allowed to achieve their level of success. This spotlights how the organization centers around growth, helping hands, and a culture of successful opportunities.

Williams has also organized the LBCI Nursing Assisting of the Year Award to a Certified Nursing Assistant in Bayou Region Parish, participated in Christmas for Haven, continuously supports homeless veterans, and more. All of Williams’s achievements thus far make her more than qualified for the Athena Award.

The WBA reception also recognized other nominees, Katie Portier and Rhonda Hebert. Portier, Marketing Director at Synergy Bank. Not only has she aided in the bank’s tenure, but she has also moved mountains with her community service with the Junior Auxillary and Rotary Club of Houma. Hebert has led women for over 10 years as an Avon representative. She represents Blue Star Mothers of America and consistently supports not only families of fallen soldiers, but current overseas soldiers.